Selecting a journal or other publishing avenue for scholarly and professional activities can be a confusing process, but it is critical to ensuring that your research is shared.
Per ICMJE, "authors have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices and reputation of the journals to which they submit manuscripts." See: Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, revised December 2016.
Define your needs before you search for a journal - make sure that you know the parameters for what you are trying to do.
Use these indexes and sources to browse journal requirements and subjects to find one that suits your needs.
Journal Selectors for Specific Publishers
Research Publishing Industry Groups
There are many different evaluation scales that try to compare journals by degree of impact. The following are readily available, widely used, and transparent about scoring methodology. Use them to try to find top journals in your area of interest.
MEDLINE (also known as Index Medicus) is an enormous journal citation database of life sciences and biomedical literature that is sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It currently includes over 24 million references and citations dating back to 1946, from a carefully selected list of more than 5600 scholarly journals from around the world, and is updated daily. Journals that belong to MEDLINE are respected, and it is commonly considered the first and finest source for most biomedical research.
PubMed is the open searchable interface for MEDLINE and other types of biomedical literature. It allows users to search MEDLINE itself, very new in-process citations for articles not yet published, older citations for journals not yet loaded into MEDLINE, author manuscripts of articles published using NIH funding, ful-text articles in PubMed Central, and some journals early in the process of review for inclusion for MEDLINE (these may eventually be rejected, so judge carefully when using them).
PubMed Central is a sub-section of PubMed that is entirely full-text. It includes early manuscripts and post-publication articles produced from research funded by the NIH, as required by law. Because it includes ALL publications produced from NIH funded research, it includes records and articles from journals not indexed in MEDLINE.
How are they useful for selecting a journal to publish in?
If a journal has been accepted for full inclusion in MEDLINE, nearly all scholars will accept it as a respectable choice for medical and dental publishing. Biomedical journals that are not included in MEDLINE may also be good choices, but they require more evaluation. Remember, some journals that are visible in PubMed are still under review for inclusion in MEDLINE - they may eventually be rejected.
Where is the list of journals in MEDLINE?
Think. Check. Submit is a cross-organization effort to help researchers figure out whether a specific journal is a viable option for publishing research. Use it to evaluate journals that are new to you before submitting to them.
Checklist for Journal Consideration
Have you received unsolicited emails from journals or publishers asking you to submit your work or be on an editorial or review board? The vast majority of these invitations are false or unworthy, from predatory publishers who will not give your work the attention it deserves or are trying to lure you into paying excess fees to publish. They are not all false, but look for any of these red flags when considering such emails.
Not all problematic journals will include all of these red flags, and some may not include any. If you are in doubt, please consult your colleagues, professors, or a librarian.
For more expansive information about Predatory Publishers and examples of their invitations, please see the Predatory Publishing Guide.
Red Flags in Emails from Supposed Publishers
Red Flags for Journal Websites
If in doubt, ask a mentor or colleague or a librarian.
What is Open Access?
"Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives." - SPARC
Why publish your work Open Access?
Some funding bodies - the NIH, NSF, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, etc - require or recommend that funded researchers publish any work derived from their grants as Open Access. Some universities also require this. Typically, this requirement permits a year's delay; in such a case, publication in a journal that will automatically become available in PubMed Central is sufficient.
Some writers wish to publish their work Open Access in order to ensure that everyone everywhere may benefit from it.
Some writers may wish to ensure that participants in the original research can have access without cost.
Types of Open Access
Gold Open Access means that the articles are available immediately as open access directly from a journal site. Typically, this requires payment from the author at time of acceptance for publication.
Green Open Access means that the articles are available from a repository, and may or may not also be available on a journal publisher's site. Typically, the author uploads it to a self-selected site after it has been published in a journal elsewhere. There may be a time delay, depending on the publisher's requirements.
Resources for Finding Respected Open Access Journals